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A woman who had a quirky walk when she was a toddler was diagnosed with arthritis aged two.
Alex Delameilleure, 21, from Hertford, was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), of which the cause is unknown.
Parents - Way - Balls - Feet - Heels
Her parents initially adored the way she walked on the balls of her feet, thinking she was pretending to be in high heels.
The condition, which caused her hands, knees and jaw to swell, made everything from her hobbies to school work exhausting.
Doctors - Miss - Delameilleure - Condition - Adulthood
Doctors gave Miss Delameilleure hope that she would grow out of the condition by adulthood, so she threw herself into performing arts.
But medication left her feeling sick, meaning she took time off school - where she already felt 'mortified' by special chairs and shoes for her condition.
People - US - Form - Arthritis - UK
Nearly 300,000 young people in the US have some form of arthritis, and 12,000 under 16s in the UK have JIA.
Now, with any hopes of performing professionally in musicals slashed, Miss Delameilleure is studying politics.
'It - Arthritis - Life - Ways - Aches
She said: 'It's [her arthritis] definitely impacted on my life in more ways than just aches and pains.
'I've always loved musical theatre, but any dreams I had of becoming a performer have been quashed.'
Miss - Delameilleure - Toddler - Accounts - Manager
When Miss Delameilleure was a toddler, her accounts manager mother Trudi, 49, and father Jamie, 52, a builder, initially thought their little daughter's unusual and dainty way of walking was nothing to worry about.
'They thought it was just a quirk, like I was imitating someone walking round in high heels,' Miss Delameilleure said.
Months - Opinion - Family - Doctor - Something
But six months later, they decided to ask the opinion of a family doctor, who confirmed there was something more sinister at work and gave the crushing diagnosis of JIA.
JIA is an autoimmune disease, where the body creates inflammation in a joint or joints when it doesn’t need to, causing stiffness and pain.
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